After last night's buffoonery that brought about the passing of an English-first ordinance, news coverage presented the law as a done deal. From Newsday on Long Island to the Los Angeles Times, news media reported that Nashville has officially become the largest American city to enact a legal requirement that government business be done in English.
But that's not true. Not yet.
Mayor Bill Purcell has the chance to step up and show superior leadership by vetoing the ordinance. After all, he heavily touted the fact that Nashville was named the "friendliest city" by Travel & Leisure. How friendly do we look after last night's vote?
During the six months of debate, Purcell didn't say much at all about the proposed law. About his only public statement came through his spokeswoman to Tennessean columnist Gail Kerr last November. The comment: "The mayor is of the opinion that the bill doesn't change anything. He thinks the Council should just quit it and get back to the work of the city."
The mayor has never vetoed anything in his time as mayor. In fact, mayoral vetoes are very rare. But he can — and the Council cannot override him if the margin remains what it was last night, with only 57.5 percent of members in favor of the bill. It takes two thirds to override a veto.
Touché, Councilman Crafton.
Purcell now has the opportunity to send a significant message by just saying no: that Nashville is a place where immigrants can feel welcome.
Sure, there are going to be people who are upset by the veto, folks who think: "By God, if they are in America then they should speak English." And if those same folks checked their family trees, they'd probably find immigrants whose first language wasn't English.
Gosh, maybe the American Indians should reassert their rights to the lands and force all of the white faces to learn the many different languages Indians use, just to be fair. How's your Nahuatl these days? It is baffling why communities feel compelled to push for English-only environments. Immigrants helped build this country, and they're still helping to do so today.
There are plenty of other ways of assimilating immigrants. Grandstanding about the fact that you speak English and they don't is not one of them.
Appendix: From the Metro Charter —
Sec. 5.04. Mayor's veto power; veto of items in appropriations and budget.
The mayor is authorized to approve or to disapprove ordinances and resolutions adopted by the council and no ordinance or resolution shall become effective without his approval except as herein provided. Every ordinance or resolution adopted by the council shall be presented to the mayor for his consideration. If he approves, he shall sign the same, and it shall become effective according to the terms thereof. If he disapproves, he shall return the same to the council without his signature, which return maybe accompanied by a message indicating the reasons for his disapproval. Any resolution or ordinance so disapproved shall become effective when subsequent to its return it shall be adopted by two-thirds (2/3rds) of all the members to which the council is entitled, with the ayes and noes and the names of the councilmen voting for and against the same entered on the minutes. Every resolution or ordinance shall become effective unless the same be approved or disapproved by the mayor and returned to the council at or prior to the next regular meeting of the council occurring ten (10) days or more subsequent to the date when the same was delivered to his office for consideration.
- ALEX B FRUIN INHERITANCE TRUST; CANDACE F STEFANSIC INHERITANCE TRUST; CANDANCE F STEFANSIC INHERITANCE TRUST; FRUIN, ALEX B TRUSTEE; FRUIN ALEX B INHERITANCE TRUST; STEFANSIC, CANDACE F TRUSTEE; STEFANSIC CANDACE F INHERITANCE TRUST; STEFANSIC CANDANCE F INHERITANCE TRUST
- ROSS, BRIDGETT D
- COOKE, ETHEN LANYARD TRUSTEE; COOKE, ETHEN LEWIS ESTATE
- JACOBS, JESSICA ALEXANDRA; JACOBS, ERIKA BESS